The Judge and the Other
The casualness of language permits us to be both prosecutor and pardoner of our own wrongs. I recognize in myself the established pattern of poor behavior, and (ever eager to assert my self-awareness) brazenly declare, "I am a horrible person!" A friend might generously protest such a damning pronouncement. It is not, after all, always the case, or they could hardly be called a friend. But perhaps their protest senses the dual deception I have thus perpetrated. First, that the self which is contemporaneously horrible is not MY self. I am a righteous, towering figure, chastising the indwelling Other with its propensity for bad behavior, and thereby separating myself from it by the infinite chasm of alterity. This serves the second deception, which is that in accusing myself, I am also excusing myself. I am not the one who does. But even if I were, I should still be pardoned, because it is not merely that I have done horrible things (probably unavoidably true), but that I am ontologically, that is essentially a person who cannot be otherwise than horrible. My excuse is my own nature, not to be contravened by the selflessness of respect for the wellbeing of others. If I am to be reproached, it is unjust, for I am not responsible for that which I cannot change--though I may, Sisyphus-like, attempt to climb against my natural incline, only to find that it is impossible: the hilltop cannot be taken. Thus absolved, I go about my life unaltered, save for a deepening illusion and the increasing self-divide.